Southeast Environmental Conference

In Attendance: Jeromy Grant, Samuel Sheakley, Sean Williams, Arianna Lapke

In late September IGAP and Coastal Resiliency departments traveled to Craig Alaska and attend the Southeast Environmental Conference (SE Env Con). The SE Env Con is held yearly and is opportunity for tribe, government entities, and other programs throughout Southeast Alaska to gather and present and share their work; this offers a unique experience that is specific to Southeast. It was a great experience and there where so many amazing presentations including our IGAP presentation of the wood stove demonstration project, and the Coastal Resiliency presentation on the scuba work they are doing, SEATOR did several presentations on Ocean Acidification, Shellfish Biomass, Water sampling, and phytoplankton, just to name a few. There is so many great projects happening, several of them seem like they would be a great fit for Hoonah!

Kelp farming is a relatively new concept to the US and has huge positive market and environmental impact potential. California is one of the few states that are currently farming sugar kelp and winged kelp, currently bull kelp is not mass farmed but has potential especially in Southeast Alaska as a source of food, biofuel, bio plastics. Kelp Co is one of the only companies here in Alaska currently farming kelp, they reported in their presentation that the kelp California has growing can absorb 3.2% of the carbon that is going into our ocean yearly, this may not sound like much but if more communities start farming kelp the percent of carbon removed each year could be a lot higher. Farming kelp is relatively easy to do and has little to no negative environmental impact, Kelp Co is working with local and state entities to ensure the most environmentally safe practices are developed and fallowed.  Researching kelp farming as a potential path forward for the tribe looks highly achievable and something we should consider for future project.

Verma composting is a fascinating method of composting that utilizes worms to consume the compostable waste and produce nutrient rich soil perfect for use in gardens! Verma composting offers several benefits over your standard compost pile in the back yard, the fist of which is that it’s a space saver compared to traditional compost piles. Verma composting can be done in your kitchen all you would need is a five-gallon bucket and a couple red worms to get started and can be done year-round.  The worms will multiply on their own and consume more and more compost as time progresses, the red worms will consume more food waste then your standard compost pile which you are limited to what compostable foods that will break down over time. Verma composting is cost effecting and a great idea for school project, or to put in your garage or even home, its low maintenance, low smell, and will immediately start reducing the amount of compostable waste going into our landfill.

The Hoonah Indian Association’s IGAP Department presented on the air quality study and wood stove demonstration project we did this last year. The presentation was a great opportunity to discuss the results of the air quality study that fallowed the wood stove demonstration project, out lining the major contributors in our community to poor air quality such as smoking in the home and old wood stoves. Coastal Resiliency presented on their scuba program and the data they are collecting and what it potentially be used for in future projects. Both presentations received high praises from our audience and great crowd interaction and lots of questions where asked; both presentations covered projects that had not been done before in Southeast and are pathing the way for a Coastal Guardians Network, and safe levels of in home air quality throughout Alaska’s tribal communities.

It was a humbling experience and truly an honor to present our work to our peers and government entities throughout Southeast and be a part of the sharing and receiving of knowledge that will be used to better serve communities and the environment for many generations to come.

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